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Amazon Customer Service - It's a mixed bag



Update on February 8th 2017

So, as it happens sometimes in life, things can go bad. So, Amazon took the wrong item that was delivered. Then, by some weird sequence of events, delivered a brand new laptop, which was again a Vostro instead of a Inspiron.

This time, again the customer rep was very apologetic, and happily transferred the call to the supervisor. Again, the supervisor also apologized, and obviously I asked for compensation. Nope, they wont give it.

I asked to speak with the seller (I later discovered that the seller is an inhouse seller, so Amazon is the seller in this case) but that was declined too.

I asked if it is right that this seller has just ruined my confidence in amazon shipping? The supervisor said it is not, but there will be no penalty for the seller or any compensation for me.

So, I resigned to the fact that nope, my options are once again, to get a replacement or a refund. Since the specs were almost identical (and I spoke with Dell who confirmed that despite this being not the laptop i actually ordered, there wont be any problems with warranty), I just decided to hold on it.

My confidence with Amazon is a little shaken, but I suppose, the policy only extends till refunds and returns, without any compensation. Dunno what else I could do about it.


Original stuff

Like a duct that takes to water, I almost immediately embrace online stuff (which could be said about anybody who was born in the 80s onward) I took to online shopping the moment it came to India like 6 years ago. Obviously Flipkart was the only choice available. Back then, Flipkart was a small company, and their customer service was just excellent. Then, they got bigger and as it happens to any Indian company that becomes big (I have written about poor service with Airtel and Paytm previously. Of course, this  become bigger become arrogant and give poor service affects Indian divisions of International companies like Xiaomi too!), Flipkart started doing all the bad things big companies do. Their wait times got insane. emails took time to arrive, and IVR became a rubik's cube that cannot be solved by mere mortals.

Of course, those who read my blog should not think that I am always complaining. I have praised Vodafone and Faasos when they have done excellent things, and obviously I am about to praise Amazon.

After that incident with Flipkart, I decided to go with Amazon, and that was 5 years ago and I am still with them. Amazon, of course is the world's largest company, and not just in retail. They are like seriously huge company. Yet, they haven't forgotten the basics of customer service. Recently I ordered an Inspiron machine and somehow the supplier (who is not Amazon, this is important) sent me a Vostro machine. Reaching out to amazon customer service is easy. Log in to the website, and there is a option called 'call'. No rubik's cube inspired IVR and none of that nonsense. Then, there is the wait time. 5 years ago, and now, it is still less than a minute. I was always worried that once Amazon got too big in India (look at what happened to Xiaomi above), I thought they would reduce their focus on customer service. Now they are big in India, and yet the wait time is less than a minute.

The friendly customer rep listened to me (the website had already shared all the order details, so we got right into the issue right away) and asked me to email some photos of the wrong item to be delivered. I did that, and 3 hours letter, amazon replied that someone will be here in 24 hours to collect the wrong item. Further, a new item has already been ordered, and it will begin delivery the moment I return this wrong item. Today morning, the amazon pick guy called me up, and he is on his way.

Of course, I am yet to receive the actual item I ordered, but this is Amazon's 2nd mistake (and it is the supplier who put the wrong thing in the box) in 5 years, and I ordered dozens of things every few months, so the number of orders I have with them is huge. Even now, something could go wrong, but so far, the communication, promptness and the energy with which the amazon system works has me impressed.

I will update this as the story develops.

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Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are here with offline option


[logo of amazon and netflix, obtained from their official logo disbersing media center links on their website]

A while ago, I blogged that Netflix should enable offline mode. I made a case as to why that is not just neccessary, but rather mandatory if netflix wishes to survive. And now, as of this writing not only is netflix offering offline video, amazon prime video is finally here. It just so happens that Prime Video always had offline mode.

For me, as a consumer, this is a god send. This and other scenarios such as the entry of Reliance Jio are a sign of things. It is not a coincidence that netflix and amazon video make an entry into the second most populous country in the world, and Jio launches in India. Internet has always been one of those things that was needed but not available. Despite the valiant efforts of Reliance, Jio will still fall well short of meeting the broadband needs of Indian consumers. However, at least, there is availability in a place where there none to start with. This explains why Netfilx and Amazon are making an entry into the Indian market.

This will also signify an intense shift in the way we consume media. The smartphone - cheap as it is - is perhaps the only gateway for a lot of folks to everything from accessing information to porn to entertainment. Now that (limited) broadband access is also in place, Netflix and Prime Video need to do what they can to get people to use it. I see this impacting a lot of folks in a variety of ways.

Obviously, Vodafone and Airtel will have to reduce their rates. They would rather make less money and keep their customers than the other way around. So, data rates and broadband rates should come down drastically, and then stay steady.

Compression technology should also improve incredibly. India will always be a special case when it comes to broadband speeds. We still believe 256 to 512 Kbps qualifies as 'broadband'. I am already seeing Prime Video offering to deliver an hour of content for less than 100 MB. That is just awesome. Of course, compression technology is usually open source. So, what we will probably see is innovation in the ability to compress content on the fly, and then deliver it.

Another place where I see this impacting is general entertainment. Especially, movie box office. The television has already taken a huge bite out of movie business (which explains why a box of popcorn costs more than the movie ticket itself). With folks being able to get entertainment on their mobile screens, there is an even less reason to step out of the home and sit in a cramped movie hall and watch half a dozen trailers, ads and what not, before the actual movie starts.

Then, there are the originals. As it is already happening with many bollywood productions, I fully expect some of the more advanced movie studios like YashRaj and Red Chillies to tie up with these streaming providers for exclusive content. I wont be surprised if SRK or Salman Khan produce and may be even act in special content. I expect them to have a huge pay day as well.

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June 2nd update – and the Exam 483 book and the cloud and the future

I thought it was time to provide update to my interns who are being groomed by me to achieve the Exam 70483 certification.  

This notes will help them and future interns who are becoming part of the certification paradigm. The code for Unit 1 and Unit 3 should be up on our bitbucket repository soon enough. As always, the code is extensively documented so that you will be able to understand what is going on. Further, blog posts will accompany each topic. The blog posts are currently being written and should be live progressively. Once the blog posts and code goes live, our Exam 483 collection would have covered 3 out of the 4 topics. Personally, that makes me very happy. 

I also anticipate my interns to join me in posting their own take on the topics, so the amount of blogging on each topic should rise exponentially in the coming months. 

I also wanted to take this opportunity to praise the book that I am using to serve our purpose. The Book is Exam Ref 70-483 by Wouter de Kort. Each of interns have received a free copy (physical copy and brand new!) of this book from study nildana, and I personally am using the same as well. The book is not elaborate, allowing developers to learn mostly on their own. It's not a thorough guide and that is good because it covers the entire gamut of programming. I love the book and strongly would recommend the book to anybody who is pursuing a career in .NET.  

Many of these blogs and code is inspired by what Mr. Kort's book. For that we are truly thankful. In fact, if you are reading this and you are a future intern of study nildana, do let us know. We will ship you a free copy of this book (brand new, of course. We don’t want any of that second hand business when it comes to books) to your home.  

I fully expect my own blogs and code repository to be complete by end of June. Of course, my interns and I will keep fine turning the blog posts as well as the code over time, making it better and better. Meanwhile, once I am done with c sharp, I will be beginning with the following two exams.  

Exam 480 - Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 

Exam 532 - Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions  

I will be blogging simultaneously about this. As usual, code will become available at our code repository. There are specific reasons why these are the exams study nildana is pursuing 

Exam 480 is obvious. It's possible today to call yourself a programmer without knowing about web programming. I am a .NET developer but I find myself constantly working on web technologies. Further, with the whole world moving (or already there) to a service based model, the browser is the center of the universe. Any developer who thinks he can survive with just one programming skill is a fool. In fact, such fools are not welcome at all at study nildana. The only way to survive in this complicated world is with multi-skills and I am not just talking about technical skills here.  

Exam 532, is a bit of a higher order. I don’t expect any of my interns to dig deep into anytime soon. However, I like to be prepared. The 532 is about study nildana becoming prepared for the cloud. The service based model implies that we will use applications that are constantly consuming data. Mobile device usage has exploded, but the service usage is still minimal. The usage part is where the cloud comes in. So, study nildana wants to be prepared.  

Of course, the cloud is one big place and there are so many players. Although study nildana has been burned with the windows phone and Microsoft Mobile in general, we haven't gone extinct. God no. On the contrary, thanks to the very same Microsoft, I am in a very good place in my life, and so are my students. Which is why, we have chosen to side with Microsoft's cloud offering. All this and more is why Exam 532 becomes important to us.  

At the same time, I have come to realize that embracing other platforms is part of the game. Remember when I talked about multi-skills? Yes, and that means, study nildana will wholeheartedly embrace other cloud solutions, especially Amazon and Google. Its just that we want to take our baby steps by holding Azure's hand because we already know how to use Azure. Hopefully, with more and more study nildana members becoming active, we will have folks working on all of these.  

With that, I will bid goodbye for now.